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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


BAURISTHENE, A.M.; MUTOMBO, K.  and  STUMPF, W.E.. Alpha case formation mechanism in Ti-6Al-4V alloy investment castings using YFSZ shell moulds. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.4, pp.357-361. ISSN 2411-9717.

Ti-64, which accounts for more than 50% of the worldwide titanium tonnage, has found commercial importance in industries requiring components with high specific strength and resistance to corrosion. Investment casting is the preferred production method due to the difficult machinability of the alloy. This study was aimed at investigating the mechanism and the extent of alpha case formation on Ti-64 components cast using the investment casting method with YFSZ (yttria fully-stabilized zirconia) shell moulds after vacuum induction melting. The extent of the reaction between the mould hot face and the molten metal has been studied by varying parameters such as soaking temperature and mould hot face composition, and examining their effects on the reaction with the mould. An increase in the soaking temperature had an effect on the alpha case, both in appearance and hardness, but had no effect on contamination levels by carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen. The depth of alpha case increased with soaking temperature, increasing from 35 µm to 161 µm with an increase in temperature from 1200°C to 1400°C. The micro-hardness profiles provided insight into the effect of the alpha case on the mechanical properties of the Ti-64 alloy by displaying hardness values of 1000 HV0.1 and above, but could not be solely utilized to determine the alpha case penetration depth due to microstructural differences in the unaffected Ti-64, in particular the martensitic microstructure that formed with a fast cooling rate from a higher temperature. Levels of expected contaminants such as Zr, Y, O, and C were low. The addition of the colloidal zirconia binder affected the interfacial reactions. YFSZ proved to be a thermodynamically stable refractory material, with the alpha case possibly forming as a result of segregation.

Keywords : Ti-6Al-4V; alpha case; investment casting; contamination; YFSZ shell moulds.

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